Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Jordanian-Israeli Earthquake Drill

Though there is precious little information about it available online, Israel and Jordan have just completed a joint operation simulating a response to an earthquake. The drill took place on a kibbutz within Israel.

Jordanian news did not report the story at all (at least not in English) while Syrian media did report on the exercise and framed it as a situation where "the Zionist Entity" would need help from Jordan. Syrian media is also the only outlet that noted that this type of drill is an annual occurrence.

Most Israeli media that reported on this story did so only in sketchy detail and pointed out that the event took place in the shadow of tension between Israel and Jordan over Jerusalem and that the event was only announced after the fact to avoid domestic pressure on the Jordanian government to cancel.

The event must be taken as good news. Cooperation between two countries with a somewhat cold peace cannot be considered anything but a positive step. The deepening of relationships, forging of institutional and personal ties and an increased compatibility and ability to function together in mutual interest is valuable to deepen ties between countries, especially Israel and Jordan.

The secrecy of this drill, however, underscores how this peace is not grassroots but rather political only. It underlines the need for further cooperation in this vein and in others: cultural, educational and the like. Indeed, after the fact, one should hope that this drill and its success and benefits be promulgated widely in Jordan and the Arab world. The breaking of the taboo of dealing with Israel and the opening up of a willingness to try developing ties with Israel and to reap the benefits of such ties could be a key component in creating a wider regional peace.

One also needs to wonder how much cooperation of this type takes place without any publicity. Certainly there is important Israeli-Egyptian cooperation, notably in agriculture, but unfortunately, its benefits are not promoted, as they should be.

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